The Best Beaches in Cornwall by Sawday's

Cornwall’s beaches range from endless curves of sand between misty headlands to tiny coves echoing with crashing waves. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to lay your towel.  

We asked the owners of our collection of hotels, inns, B&Bs and self-catering places for their recommendations on Cornwall best beaches, as well as picking out a few from our own visits and the native Cornish folk on the team.

Here you’ll find steep scrambles to quiet bays, huge Blue Flag expanses perfect for days of beach games and paddling and places where the dog can run itself to happy exhaustion. As well as some great places to head home to after your day at the beach.      


Our favourite beaches in Cornwall

We had plenty of sources to draw on when it came to discovering Cornish beaches. We have a lot of knowledgeable owners in Cornwall and, with our office in Bristol, we all get down there fairly often too. Some of us were even born and raised along its rippling coastline. It made choosing our favourite beaches easier because we had first hand information, but also harder because there are so many.

Here are just eight of what could have been hundreds.


Porthcurno beach, Cornwall

Just round the corner from the famous Sennen (itself a lovely spot) is the quieter Gwynver (sometimes Gwenver). Consistent waves bring the surfers and the steep cliff path down keeps the crowds away, but it’s still patrolled by lifeguards.

Nearest to: Sennen

The River Gannel emptying into the sea down one side of the beach makes a chilly paddling pool and a great source of channel digging, while the huge dunes are perfect for rolling down and launching tiny styrofoam model planes.

Nearest to: Newquay

High cliffs cut out the wind and turn the beach into a paradise. The Minack Theatre, visible to the right, is lovely to walk round even when nothing’s showing and half an hour’s walk along the coast you can scramble along the jutting tooth of Logan Rock.

Nearest to: Marazion

Although easy to reach in the sense of being not far into Cornwall, this beach is often deserted thanks to steep access and tricky currents that warn against swimming, although it’s possible to walk round to Ruvey when the tide is out.

Nearest to: Crackington Haven

A lovely deep bay with calm waters and a remote location meaning relatively few visitors. Combine a visit with a feast night at The Hidden Hut, which serves lively communal meals on a bring-your-own (wine, cutlery and furniture) basis.

Nearest to: Falmouth

Although often crowded in the height of summer, we had to include beautiful Kynance, with rock stacks, islands and caves to explore at low tide. The walk down from the car park is a little steep and tricky – take everything you need but pack light or you’ll dread the climb back up.

Nearest to: The Lizard

Another scramble down tracks from the National Trust car park at Godrevy Point, but so quiet when you get there that it’s popular with the naturists. Many swimmers have reported seals popping up around them to say hello.

Nearest to: St Ives

A simply stunning beach wherever you stand. Jagged rock formations line and once you’ve made your way down there’s an enclosed feeling that makes you think of smugglers and shipwrecks.

Nearest to: Mawgan Porth

Our favourite destinations close to great beaches

Family-friendly: Blue Flag beaches

Sometimes what you want in a beach is cafes and convenience rather than rocky scrambles to hidden coves.
The Blue Flag certification guarantees you easy access, facilities, lifeguards in season and good water quality.

Here are the eight that have been awarded the status in Cornwall.


Rosehill Lodges, Cornwall

Widemouth is the first of Cornwall’s Blue Flag beaches you reach if you’re coming from the east. There’s great rock pooling at low tide and the waves mean body board hire shops and surf schools abound.

Nearest to: Bude

Porthminster is just a few minutes’ walk from St. Ives, so you can split your day between the sands and the great galleries and top it off with food at the Portminster Beach Cafe, whose sourcing and creativity have won several awards.

Nearest to: St Ives

Only a mile east of Porthminster but with almost no surf to speak of, this is a great beach for casual swimmers and paddling toddlers. The palm trees and pale sand give it a tropical feel and a short walk east to Porth Kidney brings you to an RSPB bird sanctuary.

Nearest to: St Ives

The third Blue Flag in the St. Ives area, Porthmeor’s easy access mean it get very crowded in peak season, but for good reason. Easy access to town means you don’t have to pack everything for the day and there’s still that lovely water and coastal views.

Nearest to: St Ives

The small village on the north coast has a beach with world-class surfing (some tricky currents for swimmers) great restaurants and cafes, plus frequent dolphin sightings and superb bird watching from the cliffs.

Nearest to: Padstow

Just down the road from Polzeath are the sheltered alcoves in the folds of Trevone Bay and the vertigo-inducing blowhole in the field above. The shallow shelving of the beach can mean a long walk to the water at low tide.  

Nearest to: Padstow

Known locally as “Gylly”, the only Blue Flag beach on the south coast is a ten minute walk from Falmouth’s centre. Minimal surf has made it a stand-up paddle boarding hotspot and there are beautiful walks into the Roseland Heritage Coast once you cross the Carrick Roads.

Nearest to: Falmouth

This big beach has plenty of room for games, a play park on shore and the popular Blue Bar for drinks and snacks. At low tide you can walk round to Chapel Porth and see the iconic old mine building that looks out at the sea.

Nearest to: Porthtowan

Browse places to stay near Cornwall’s beaches

Dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall

Dogs love the beach as much as we do, but there are often restrictions on where and when they’re welcome.
Here are three of our favourites for year-round, off-lead beach days with your dog.

Beach in Cornwall

There are numerous cafes and restaurants including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, as well as two miles of sand for dogs to chase each other.

Rocky gullies and shelves for the more active and inquisitive dogs to explore, but less ball-chasing space than some other beaches.

Calmer waters for dogs who like a swim and masses of space for running, as well as great walks over to Trevose Head.

More Cornwall inspiration

Our guide to Cornwall: our top destination in Britain, with everything to offer from culture and golden beaches to the South West Coast Path and brilliant food spots.

Wondering where to stay in Cornwall? Here you’ll find inspiration for your next adventure, while you can also browse all our self-catering places, hotels, B&Bs and inns to stay from the collection.

This is our guide to all the best things to do in Cornwall: places to explore, walk, surf and eat. Many of these tips even come from Bristol team, who spend many of their summer weekends in the region.